The Nonindigenous Occurrences section of the NAS species profiles has a new structure. The section is now dynamically updated from the NAS database to ensure that it contains the most current and accurate information. Occurrences are summarized in Table 1, alphabetically by state, with years of earliest and most recent observations, and the tally and names of drainages where the species was observed. The table contains hyperlinks to collections tables of specimens based on the states, years, and drainages selected. References to specimens that were not obtained through sighting reports and personal communications are found through the hyperlink in the Table 1 caption or through the individual specimens linked in the collections tables.

Cottus asper
Cottus asper
(Prickly Sculpin)
Native Transplant

Copyright Info
Cottus asper Richardson, 1836

Common name: Prickly Sculpin

Taxonomy: available through www.itis.govITIS logo

Identification: Moyle (1976, 2002); Morrow (1980); Page and Burr (1991).

Size: 30 cm (Page and Burr 1991).

Native Range: Pacific Slope drainages from Seward, Alaska, to Ventura River, California; east of Continental Divide in upper Peace River, British Columbia (Page and Burr 1991).

Native range data for this species provided in part by NatureServe NS logo
Hydrologic Unit Codes (HUCs) Explained
Interactive maps: Point Distribution Maps

Nonindigenous Occurrences:

Table 1. States with nonindigenous occurrences, the earliest and latest observations in each state, and the tally and names of HUCs with observations†. Names and dates are hyperlinked to their relevant specimen records. The list of references for all nonindigenous occurrences of Cottus asper are found here.

StateFirst ObservedLast ObservedTotal HUCs with observations†HUCs with observations†
CA197220184Antelope-Fremont Valleys; Santa Ana; Santa Clara; Santa Margarita
WA201220152Lower Chehalis; Nisqually

Table last updated 4/22/2024

† Populations may not be currently present.

Means of Introduction: Apparently introduced in imported water, possibly with water released into Piru Creek, a tributary of the Santa Clara River, from Pyramid Reservoir during the 1970s (Bell 1978; Swift et al. 1993; Moyle 2002). Pyramid Reservoir recevies water through the California Aqueduct from the Sacaramento and San Joaquin River basins, which are part of the inland range of this species (Bell 1978; Moyle 2002).

Status: Established in California and Washington.

Impact of Introduction: Unknown. The occurrence of this cottid in the Santa Clara River system has been viewed as a possible threat to the survival of the federally endangered unarmoured threespine stickleback Gasterosteus aculeatus williamsoni (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service 1977).

Remarks: According to Bell (1978), this species and others would have survived passage through pumping and power plants in route to Pyramid Reservoir before colonizing the Santa Clara River system. Cottus asper is capable of surviving in a wide range of habitats including disturbed sites; it is also known to prey on salmon eggs and fry (Moyle 1976).

References: (click for full references)

Bell, M.A. 1978. Fishes of the Santa Clara system, southern California. Contributions in Science, Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County 295:1-20.

Mongillo, P. E., and M. Hallock. 1997. Distribution and habitat of native nongame steam fishes of the Olympic Peninsula. Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife Technical Report# FRD (1997): 97-05.

Morrow, J.E. 1980. The freshwater fishes of Alaska. Alaska Northwest Publishing Company, Anchorage, AK.

Moyle, P.B. 1976. Inland fishes of California. University of California Press, Berkeley, CA.

Moyle, P.B. 2002. Inland fishes of California. 2nd edition. University of California Press, Berkeley, CA.

Page, L.M., and B.M. Burr. 1991. A field guide to freshwater fishes of North America north of Mexico. The Peterson Field Guide Series, volume 42. Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston, MA.

Swift, C.C., T.R. Haglund, M. Ruiz, and R.N. Fisher. 1993. The status and distribution of the freshwater fishes of southern California. Bulletin of the Southern California Academy of Science 92(3):101-167.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 1977. Recovery plan for unarmored threespine stickleback, Gasterosteus aculeatus williamsoni, an endangered fish. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 60 pp.

Other Resources:
FishBase Summary

Author: Pam Fuller, and Matt Neilson

Revision Date: 7/18/2016

Peer Review Date: 3/2/2012

Citation Information:
Pam Fuller, and Matt Neilson, 2024, Cottus asper Richardson, 1836: U.S. Geological Survey, Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database, Gainesville, FL, https://nas.er.usgs.gov/queries/FactSheet.aspx?SpeciesID=501, Revision Date: 7/18/2016, Peer Review Date: 3/2/2012, Access Date: 4/22/2024

This information is preliminary or provisional and is subject to revision. It is being provided to meet the need for timely best science. The information has not received final approval by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and is provided on the condition that neither the USGS nor the U.S. Government shall be held liable for any damages resulting from the authorized or unauthorized use of the information.


The data represented on this site vary in accuracy, scale, completeness, extent of coverage and origin. It is the user's responsibility to use these data consistent with their intended purpose and within stated limitations. We highly recommend reviewing metadata files prior to interpreting these data.

Citation information: U.S. Geological Survey. [2024]. Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database. Gainesville, Florida. Accessed [4/22/2024].

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